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Views on Israel of U.S. Presidential Candidates 2020:
Amy Klobuchar

(1960 - )

Amy Jean Klobuchar* was born on May 25, 1960, in Plymouth, Minnesota. Klobuchar is the daughter of Rose (née Heuberger) and Jim Klobuchar. She has one younger sister. Her parents divorced when Klobuchar was 15.

Klobuchar attended public schools in Plymouth and was valedictorian at Wayzata High School. In 1982, she graduated from Yale magna cum laude with a B.A. in political science. During college, she was a member of the Yale College Democrats, the Feminist Caucus, and the improv troupe Suddenly Susan. During her time at Yale, Klobuchar spent time as an intern for then Vice President, and former Minnesota Senator, Walter Mondale. Her senior thesis was “Uncovering the Dome,” a history of the ten years of politics surrounding the building of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.

After Yale, Klobuchar enrolled at the University of Chicago Law School, where she served as an associate editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and received her Juris Doctor degree in 1985. She was a partner at two Minneapolis law firms before being elected county attorney for Hennepin County in 1998, making her responsible for all criminal prosecution in Minnesota’s most populous county. She served in that position for eight years.

Amy Jean Klobuchar was born on May 25, 1960, in Plymouth, Minnesota. Klobuchar is the daughter of Rose (née Heuberger) and Jim Klobuchar. She has one younger sister. Her parents divorced when Klobuchar was 15.

Klobuchar attended public schools in Plymouth and was valedictorian at Wayzata High School. In 1982, she graduated from Yale magna cum laude with a B.A. in political science. During college, she was a member of the Yale College Democrats, the Feminist Caucus, and the improv troupe Suddenly Susan. During her time at Yale, Klobuchar spent time as an intern for then Vice President, and former Minnesota Senator, Walter Mondale. Her senior thesis was “Uncovering the Dome,” a history of the ten years of politics surrounding the building of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.

After Yale, Klobuchar enrolled at the University of Chicago Law School, where she served as an associate editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and received her Juris Doctor degree in 1985. After law school, Klobuchar worked as a corporate lawyer and became a partner at the Minnesota law firms Dorsey & Whitney and Gray Plant Mooty, where she specialized in “regulatory work in telecommunications law.”

Her first foray into politics came after she gave birth and was forced to leave the hospital 24 hours later, a situation exacerbated by the fact that Klobuchar’s daughter, Abigail, was born with a condition whereby she could not swallow. That experience led Klobuchar to appear before the Minnesota State Legislature advocating for a bill that would guarantee new mothers a 48-hour hospital stay. Minnesota passed the bill and President Clinton later made the policy federal law.

In 1998, she was elected county attorney for Hennepin County, making her responsible for all criminal prosecution in Minnesota’s most populous county. She served in that position for eight years.

Klobuchar’s first visit to Israel was in 2005, when she was contemplating her first run for the Senate. She took the plunge in 2006 and became Minnesota’s first elected female United States Senator. She was reelected in 2012 and 2018.

In 2015, she was appointed Chair of the Senate Democratic Steering Committee, where she brings together senators, businesses, community leaders, policy experts and intergovernmental organizations to help develop policies to strengthen the economy and move the country forward.

Other committee assignments:

  • For the 116th Congress, Klobuchar was assigned to the following committees:
  • Committee on the Judiciary
  • Joint Economic Committee
  • Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
  • Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
  • Committee on Rules and Administration (Ranking Member)
  • Joint Committee on Printing
  • Joint Committee on Library

Klobuchar has written two books. In 1986, she published her thesis Uncovering the Dome and, in 2015 she published an autobiography, The Senator Next Door: A Memoir from the Heartland.

Klobuchar is married to John Bessler.They have a daughter, Abigail.

Klobuchar, who is of Slovenian descent, likes to joke about how often she’s asked if she’s Jewish. She is a member of the United Church of Christ.

On February 10, 2019, Klobuchar announced that she is running for President and will compete in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries


Anti-Semitism

  • “Grieving is not enough. Conviction without courage is not enough. Words without action are not enough. We have to stand up and speak up. We cannot only stand up to the spread of hatred but teach tolerance and acceptance.” (AJC Global Forum, June 21, 2019)

  • Unlike six of the other Democratic candidates Klobuchar voted with the majority (76 senators voted for the legislation; 22 Democrats opposed it) for the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019  a bill that authorizes state and local governments to demand that contractors declare they do not support boycotts of Israel or its settlements in the West Bank. (JTA, February 6, 2019)

Israel

  • Klobuchar said that as president she would keep the American embassy in Israel in Jerusalem rather than move it back  to Tel Aviv. Asked by Jewish Insider if she would reverse the decision after a campaign event in Adel, Iowa, Klobuchar said “No, I wouldn’t.”

    Klobuchar added, “I think it would have been better if that was done as part of a negotiation for a two-state solution. I think it’s unfortunate it was done the way it was done but I wouldn’t reverse it.”

    Klobuchar declined to say if she would reverse Trump’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, telling JI, “I think it should be part of the negotiations.”

    Regarding the U.S. sponsored conference in Bahrain on the Palestinian economy. “The president’s son-in-law holding a summit where neither of the county’s leaders show up, I don’t think that’s really the beginning [of a two-state solution]” said Klobuchar. (JewishInsider, July 1, 2019)

  • “For me Israel is one of our strongest and most enduring allies and a beacon of democracy in a very tough, and I would say, incomparably tough neighborhood.”

    “When I decided to get involved in federal politics and run for the U.S. Senate, one of my very first trips abroad was to Israel. I was overwhelmed by the warmth and spirit of people who welcomed me at every turn. I saw the spirit and resilience of the Israeli people and it reinforced my commitment to strengthening the relationship between our two countries. I will never stop fighting for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship and a secure Israel.”

    “There is so much that Israel stands for and that our Jewish community stands for – a better world, making sure we do something about climate change, helping refugees from all over the world, making sure that we stand for civil justice. These are important messages as well as the importance of a secure Israel.”

    “I remember on that trip I took, standing outside of a house in Sderot, meeting the family and hearing the story of this little girl who all she was doing was doing her homework at the kitchen table and a missile was launched from across the border right in their house,  a hole in their roof. Because of that alert system she was saved. But It is something I won’t forget.”

    “We must stand for the security of Israel, but we must also stand for the values of Israel.” (AJC Global Forum, June 21, 2019)

  • Asked by the New York Times, “Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights?” Klobuchar responded, “Yes. I think Israel, however, under Prime Minister Netanyahu has been doing things that are not helpful to bringing peace to the Middle East. The way that he came out in favor of annexing the Golan Heights, what he has done when it comes to the settlements, the fact that we are not engaging in serious discussions for a two-state solution — our country and the Palestinians and the Israelis, I think that this is setting us back. And so, what I would do is to reach out to restart those negotiations again. I think that President Trump has politicized this issue and has not helped in terms of American support for Israel. Israel is our beacon of democracy in the Mideast, and we have a role to play here that is very important and it shouldn’t be politicized the way the Trump administration has politicized it. And when Israel does things that I think are against public policy and international policy, I will call them out on it and I will work with them. But again, I think that the way President Trump has done this, has made it harder and harder for people to support Israel, and you are seeing a lot of young people that have fallen away from supporting this beacon of democracy in the Mideast, and I think that needs to change.” (New York Times, June 19, 2019)
     
  • At a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., Klobuchar warned about waning support for Israel and stressed the need to mend some broken fences between Israel and the American people. (JewishInsider, June 12, 2019)
     
  • When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recruited an extreme right-wing party to join a coalition that would help his chances for reelection, Klobuchar tweeted: “This is wrong and has been rightly condemned. To quote the American Jewish Committee, ‘[The views of Otzma Yehudit] do not reflect the core values that are the very foundation of the State of Israel.’” (@amyklobuchar, February 25, 2019)
     
  • After Netanyahu said during his election campaign he would annex the settlements in the West Bank, she said, “I’m for the two-state solution and I don’t favor what Netanyahu did this weekend,” she said. “I don’t favor the annexation; I think we should have a two-state solution.” (Haaretz, April 9, 2019)

Iran

  • “We finally achieved at least a long-term plan where they were not going to enrich your uranium to the degree that they were. They were going to get rid of a number of these facilities, and by all inspections, that was happening. And what does this guy do? What did President Trump do? He comes in and says I can make you a better deal, I can make you more safe. Well guess what? As of today, we are less safe. Iran is blowing through the caps. They are going to start enriching uranium at a level that could lead to nuclear weapons, and it is much less safe than we were when [Trump] came in as president.” (CBS News, July 7, 2019)

  • Lester Holt: “Can you argue that that nuclear pact as it was ratified was a good deal?” 

    “Yes, it was.”

    “It was imperfect, but it was a good deal for that moment. I would have worked to get longer sunset periods, and that's something we could negotiate, to get back in the deal.

    But the point is, Donald Trump told us when he got out of it that he was going to give us a better deal. Those were his words. And now we are a month away from the Iranians, who claim now that they're going blow the caps on enriching uranium. And the Iranians have told us this.”

    And so that's where we are now. He has made us less safe than we were when he became president. So what I would do is negotiate us back into that agreement, is stand with our allies, and not give unlimited leverage to China and Russia, which is what he has done.” (NBC News, (June 27, 2019)

  • At a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., Klobuchar said the U.S. should negotiate its way back into the JCPOA. (JewishInsider, June 12, 2019)

  • Klobuchar voted for the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. She has expressed support for rejoining the deal if elected. (Haaretz, April 23, 2019)

Syria

  • Klobuchar opposed Trump withdrawing troops from Syria earlier this year, voting for a Senate legislation which rebuffed his decision, PBS reported. (Business Insider, March 28, 2019)

*AICE does not rate or endorse any candidate for political office.


Sources: Amy Klobuchar;
“Amy Klobuchar,” Wikipedia;
Grace Panetta, “Amy Klobuchar is running for president in 2020. Here’s everything we know about the candidate and how she stacks up against the competition,” Business Insider, (March 28, 2019);
Ron Kampeas, “5 Jewish things to know about Amy Klobuchar,” JTA, (February 6, 2019);
Bryant Harris, “2020 Democrats vow to re-enter Iran nuclear deal,” Al-Monitor, (March 19, 2019)
“Bernie Sanders Says He Hopes Netanyahu Loses,” Haaretz, (April 9, 2019);
Amir Tibon and Amos Harel, “2020 Democrats Promise to Re-enter the Iran Deal, and Israel Is Concerned,” Haaretz, (April 23, 2019);
“18 Questions. 21 Democrats. Here’s What They Said,” New York Times, (June 19, 2019);
2020 Presidential Candidate Amy Klobuchar’s Message to AJC Global Forum, (June 21, 2019);
Jeremia Kimelman, “Full transcript: 2019 Democratic debate Night One, sortable by topic,” NBC News, (June 27, 2019);
Ben Jacobs, “Klobuchar: Embassy should remain in Jerusalem,” JewishInsider, (July 1, 2019);
Nicole Sganga, “Sen. Amy Klobuchar slams Trump's dealmaking, talks foreign policy,” CBS News, (July 7, 2019).